Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission applicant pool cut from thousands to 200

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published July 6, 2020

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LANSING — On June 24, a random drawing of 200 semifinalists took place to narrow down the field of Michiganders who would like to serve on the state’s first Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.

The drawing, conducted by an independent accounting firm on an online live stream, took place after the Michigan Department of State announced June 22 that it completed the review and processed 9,367 completed and notarized applications on behalf of those who wanted to be part of the 13-member, citizen-led redistricting process — composed of four Republicans, four Democrats and five unaffiliated individuals.

The commission was implemented as part of the voter-approved Proposal 2 in November 2018. Officials said more than 2,000 applications were submitted for notarization the final two weeks of the process, by the June 1 deadline. There were applicants from all of Michigan’s 83 counties.

“We’re just over a month away now from making Michigan history in selecting and seating the first 13-member commission, and it’s an incredibly exciting time,” said Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson in a June 22 press release. “The tremendous amount of work done by our team in processing these final applications has been matched only by the enthusiasm we’ve seen from the applicants themselves, and we’re looking forward to starting the next phase of the process on Wednesday.”

Of the 9,367 processed applications, more than 7,300 of them, or 78%, were submitted by white residents. The next largest group of applicants were black residents, at over 1,200 or 13%.

A total of 55% of the applicants were males, while people aged 55 years and older composed 61% of the applicant pool. The next largest group was those aged 35 to 54 years, at 27%.

Unaffiliated political party applicants composed the largest block, at 4,540 applications or 48.5% of the total. The next highest block was Democrats, at 3,608 or 38.5%. Republicans only represented 13% of applicants.

Due to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued in October 2019, which overturned a lower court’s decision to redraw 34 congressional legislative districts, the soon-to-be announced Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission will affect congressional and legislative districts starting in 2022.

Future deadlines include Aug. 1, in which legislative leaders including the Michigan Speaker of the House, Michigan House Minority Leader, Michigan Senate Majority Leader and Michigan Senate Minority Leader can exercise up to five strikes each and return the list of finalists to the Department of State.

The deadline for selection of the 13 commissioners is Sept. 1. Their first meeting must be held by Oct. 15. On Nov. 1, 2021, the commission must have adopted a redistricting plan for the Michigan State House, Michigan State Senate and U.S. Congressional districts.

On Dec. 31, 2021, maps will become law and take effect for the 2022 election cycle.

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